Protect Your Pet from Halloween Dangers

Oct 28, 2018 | Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs

Halloween is just around the corner and with it come some important things for you to consider for the safety of your furry friends!


Chocolate Trouble:

As you may know, certain compounds in chocolate can be toxic to dogs. The primary ones are caffeine and theobromine. These stimulate the central nervous system, alter the heart’s ability to contract normally, increase gastric secretion, and promote smooth muscle relaxation. Theobromine is especially harmful as it undergoes something called enterohepatic recirculation. This occurs with certain drugs where they are reabsorbed from the intestine and then reprocessed in the liver, prolonging the physical signs of toxicosis.

These may vary depending on what type of chocolate was consumed, how much your pet ate, and the size of your pet. At home, chocolate toxicosis can look like vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, agitation, abnormal behavior, seizures and death.

If you know that your pet ate any chocolate try to keep the wrapper and call a veterinarian or poison control immediately. Helpful information to have on hand for your vet or poison control when you call: your pet’s weight, the type of chocolate (brand can be helpful) and about how many ounces were consumed. If the medical professional can determine that your pet did ingest a toxic amount of chocolate, treatment depends on several factors. If your pet just ingested the chocolate and not much time has passed, you have a chance of safely inducing vomiting – this is the quickest and most inexpensive way to deal with chocolate ingestion, so make sure you don’t wait too long before calling!

If too much time has passed or if the amount ingested poses a serious threat, you’ll have to bring your pet into an emergency center so its body can be flushed with intravenous fluids. The doctors may also recommend oral activated charcoal. Happily, the prognosis is excellent with prompt care and the above recommendations.

Other Candied Culprits

Although chocolate tends to be the main player in our candy warning section, some sugar-free candy options can actually be just as, if not more, dangerous. Xylitol is a type of sweetener in some treats and almost all sugar-free gum—plus some types of peanut butter. While it is a wonderful cavity preventing sweetener for humans, dogs who ingest xylitol experience dramatic increases in insulin which make their blood glucose plummet dangerously. Some dogs also will experience acute liver injury and failure. Onset of clinical signs due to hypoglycemia is relatively rapid (30-60 minutes) so if your pet has been unsupervised around gum or candy and you note staggering, anorexia, vomiting, seizures or coma, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Treatment involves hospitalization. If the pet recently ate the candy or gum and is neurologically normal, vomiting is induced. If this is not an option, however, hospitalization, fluid therapy, blood glucose management with intravenous dextrose and close monitoring are required. Prognosis for dogs with hypoglycemia who are treated is excellent, however if liver injury or failure are present prognosis is more guarded.

Bottom line: Keep all gum and candy away from pups –especially if it is sugar free!

Stranger Danger

The holidays are a busy time with many unfamiliar people in and around your house, and Halloween is no different. It’s a day when many strangers are ringing your doorbell and yelling trick or treat. For some animals, this is an awesome experience and others ignore it altogether. There are some, however, that struggle with the very real stress that increased numbers of people, noise and decorations bring. Some pets will have shown anxiety or fearful behaviors in response to the doorbell or strangers before, but not always. Pay close attention to how your pet is feeling and responding to the doorbell and the different people and decorations.

If you notice that your pet is acting stressed, hiding, or barking when the doorbell rings, it may be prudent to try to set up a calm, quiet space for them away from this area of the house as much as possible. Using sound machines (if well tolerated), treats and comfortable blankets in a low stimulation area can be great ways to help your pet chill out and relax.

Keep in mind that pets can rush out of open doors so it is essential for your safety, their safety and the safety of the trick-or-treaters that you have your pet on a leash or confined somewhere so that they cannot escape in a panic (or for a joy-run around the neighborhood!). There are a lot of people out on Halloween so use common sense and avoid letting your pets run unsupervised.


If you have an anxious pet, it might not be a great idea to force them into wearing a costume. Although adorable and photo-worthy, costumes can increase anxiety and fear in some dogs, cats or other animals and this can exacerbate developing behavioral problems. So pay close attention to see if your pet loves dressing up or if that might be something to leave to the humans in your family.

As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns—don’t hesitate to call VETSS—we are always here to help- no matter what time.

And have a safe and Happy Halloween!!

For more information, contact our team at VETSS, a Charlottesville VA urgent care animal hospital!

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1 day ago

Good afternoon! Our hospital will be closed for medical services today at 6pm. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency after 6pm, please contact Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital at 434-202-1616, or Veterinary Emergency Services in Verona at 540-248-1051.

If you have a non-urgent need, our Client Service team is happy to help. We will resume normal hours, 8am-8pm tomorrow.
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1 week ago

Is anyone else feeling like Fall snuck up on us?! It's a great time of year to get your pet's annual wellness care checked off of your to-do list. We want to be sure we can get your furry family member's preventive care needs on the schedule before your busy holiday season picks up.

If you're not sure what your pet is due for, our friendly Client Service team is here to help! Give us a call today or visit our website to request an appointment online -
... See MoreSee Less

Is anyone else feeling like Fall snuck up on us?! Its a great time of year to get your pets annual wellness care checked off of your to-do list. We want to be sure we can get your furry family members preventive care needs on the schedule before your busy holiday season picks up.  If youre not sure what your pet is due for, our friendly Client Service team is here to help! Give us a call today or visit our website to request an appointment online -
1 week ago

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